DUI driver who killed Kirkland resident Steve Lacey sentenced to four years | Slideshow
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
March 9, 2012 · Updated 4:21 PM
Friends and family of the late Steve Lacey, a Kirkland Google engineer, had a tough time holding back tears Friday afternoon in a King County Superior Court room.
They were in court to support Lacey’s widow, Nabila, and to see Patrick Rexroat, who killed the Kirkland resident in a drunk driving accident last July, be sentenced to four years in prison.
Several family members and friends wore green t-shirts in honor of Steve Lacey, with a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson that Nabila said summed up her husband's life: "That a man is successful who has lived well, laughed often and loved much."
Nabila also showed judge Sharon S. Armstrong a framed photo of her late husband before conveying her loss.
“During our helplessly short marriage he made me a better person. Being married to Steve was like living the dream. There was love, there was laughter, there was happiness and there was technology,” said Nabila, to a smattering of laughter from those who knew Steve.
But the laughter gave way to the reality of life without the father of two.
“In an instant the dream was over. Steve was not meant to die alone in a car and without us to hold his hand and console him. He deserved love, remorse and compassion,” said Nabila as she looked at Rexroat and raised her voice.
Nabila admitted after the hearing that no number of months in prison for Rexroat would be enough.
“It’s like having my whole life ripped from under me,” said Nabila. “My job now is to raise his children as he would have wanted them to be raised. I will make Steve proud - that is my intent.”
Rexroat will also have to pay fines totaling $1,850 and restitution to the Lacey’s that has yet to be determined.
“I really feel bad,” said Rexroat, 57, of Snohomish County. “I would gladly take that man’s place if I could. I am very ashamed and I apologize.”
The sentence for Rexroat is a maximum in a vehicular homicide case where alcohol is involved. Prosecuting attorney Amy Freedheim pointed out to the judge that with good behavior Rexroat could be out of prison within 32 months. The defense had recommended 40 months in prison. That sentence would have carried only 26 months with good behavior.
Rexroat, who had recently lost his wife to breast cancer and his business and home, is also a father.
“There isn’t any doubt in my mind that as a father he understands the loss and the impact,” Nabila told reporters following the hearing. “You just have to when you raise your children to the point that they leave home.”
Nabila said her children, Jasmine, 6, and Julian, 8, are still wrestling with the loss of their father. She said while girls her daughter’s age are drawing pictures of princesses, Jasmine recently drew a picture of herself hitting a man. She told the court that her son has reached the age where he needs help with science projects, an area of study that Steve loved.
Steve’s friend, Samantha Idle, told the judge that the maximum sentence is “laughable.” She said that Steve’s family has “been given a life sentence without a dedicated husband and father.”
Steve’s sister Sue told a story of how the family had recently been to Disney World to “create some good memories.” But Sue said that one night she was speaking with Lacey’s daughter and she expressed how much she loved and missed her father.
“To be honest I did not know how amazing he really was,” said Sue Lacey, shaking with emotion. “The maximum is the only right sentence to me.”
Others who spoke at the hearing included friends Anna McCartney and ABC News corespondent and friend Neal Karlinsky.
During the hearing the prosecutor played an emotional video comprised of photos of Steve Lacey with family and friends set to the song “Thank You” from Dido. The emotion in the court room was palpable.
Rexroat entered a guilty plea on Feb. 2. Rexroat’s only previous run-in with the law were two speeding tickets.
The crash took place on the afternoon of July 24 on the heavily traveled N.E. 85th Street in Kirkland as Steve was on his way home from Costco. Rexroat was driving southbound on 405 and exited the freeway at a high rate of speed and claimed he was chasing a driver who cut him off.
“A man drove grossly, grossly impaired by alcohol,” said Freedheim, “An hour after the crash his blood alcohol level would be .29 as your honor knows, an extraordinary amount of alcohol.”
He would lose control of his SUV on the cloverleaf exit ramp and smash into the driver’s side of Steve’s BMW, killing him instantly.
Police reports said that witnesses saw Rexroat pounding his chest like a gorilla after the accident and responded with “eh” when told of Steve’s death. Rexroat’s lawyer, Tim Leary, told the court that his reaction was exaggerated.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.